VMware's CTO Sketches Mobile Virtual Desktop Strategy

server virtualization

That's the word from Steve Herrod, CTO of VMware, who on Wednesday discussed in depth how VMware is taking advantage of its vSphere offering to expand virtualization beyond the server to any user device and into the cloud.

Herrod spoke before an audience at the VMworld 2009 conference, held this week in San Francisco.

vSphere 4 is VMware's technology for server virtualization, and is the base on which the company's cloud computing strategy is built.

Moving to a virtual desktop infrastructure has become less about desktop-centric technology and more about how it impacts the users, especially as companies look at the importance of privacy issues and an increasingly mobile workforce, Herrod said.

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At the same time, a successful virtual desktop strategy requires that the user experience closely match what the user expects from his or her current desktop devices. "If their experience isn't as good as possible, your customers will hear about it," he said.

Herrod said that vSphere has several components that make it ideal for developing a virtual desktop infrastructure, including a common set of tools for server and desktop virtualization, proven availability for disaster recovery, a proven set of security tools and proven virtualization efficiency.

In addition, vSphere also offers centralized management capabilities, including provisioning of virtual devices, the ability to update and patch those devices and the enforcement of company policies, including security, he said.

VMware is continuing to update its virtual desktop in a number of ways, Herrod said.

Herrod on Wednesday unveiled a new OEM agreement with RTO Software, the Alpharetta, Ga.-based developer of software that improved the performance of virtual desktops and thin clients.

VMware is using an RTO technology called Virtual Profilers with its VMware View desktop virtualization technology to separate the operating system, application and personality components of a virtual desktop in order to modify or patch any of these components without impacting the others.

For instance, Herrod said, using RTO, a company can create a separate master image of the operating system used in multiple virtual desktops and patch that master image, with the changes applied to those virtual desktops, without impacting their applications or their users' desktop personalities.

VMware also is working with Teradici, of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, to develop products that use the PC-over-IP, or PCoIP, protocol, Herrod said. VMware will ship products with a software version of the PCoIP later this year to increase the performance of mobile and remote users who use virtual desktops, he said. He also expects other vendors to start shipping hardware-based PCoIP products for high-performance applications.

VMware and its partners also are continuing to develop new capabilities to make it easier for mobile device users to get a virtual desktop experience using any device.

Herrod said VMware's mobile strategy includes using mobile phones as thin clients, as devices for doing remote management and as virtual PCs. The result is end-user freedom to work on any device, and a reduction in management issues by corporate IT departments, which are increasingly forced to deal with multiple types of user devices.

For instance, Herrod and another VMware colleague demonstrated PocketCloud, an application from Wyse Technology, San Jose, Calif., that turns an Apple iPhone into a mobile thin client device that can be used to access virtual desktop PCs from anywhere.

VMware and credit card giant Visa also demonstrated VMware's yet-to-be-released virtual mobile phone technology, which allows multiple virtual devices to reside on a single mobile phone and be accessed by clicking on the appropriate icon.

In the Visa application, which included a separate operating system from that of the mobile phone itself, a user is alerted any time his or her Visa card is swiped, and can receive new promotional offers based on his or her buying history. The application also used Google Maps to pull up a map showing the location of local ATMs.

"So together, we'll make it easier to spend money wherever you are," Herrod said.